Renee Roraback…you know her?
Lets read our text this morning:
And this is the testimony of John, when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, “Who are you?” He confessed, and did not deny, but confessed, “I am not the Christ.” And they asked him, “What then? Are you Elijah?” He said, “I am not.” “Are you the Prophet?” And he answered, “No.” So they said to him, “Who are you? We need to give an answer to those who sent us. What do you say about yourself?” He said, “I am the voice of one crying out in the wilderness, ‘Make straight the way of the Lord,’ as the prophet Isaiah said.” (Now they had been sent from the Pharisees.) They asked him, “Then why are you baptizing, if you are neither the Christ, nor Elijah, nor the Prophet?” John answered them, “I baptize with water, but among you stands one you do not know, even he who comes after me, the strap of whose sandal I am not worthy to untie.” These things took place in Bethany across the Jordan, where John was baptizing. The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! This is he of whom I said, ‘After me comes a man who ranks before me, because he was before me.’ I myself did not know him, but for this purpose I came baptizing with water, that he might be revealed to Israel.” And John bore witness: “I saw the Spirit descend from heaven like a dove, and it remained on him. I myself did not know him, but he who sent me to baptize with water said to me, ‘He on whom you see the Spirit descend and remain, this is he who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.’ And I have seen and have borne witness that this is the Son of God.”
Before we begin our text this morning lets recap a verse about John the Baptist from last week.
There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. He came as a witness, to bear witness about the light, that all might believe through him.
God sent this man - a forerunner -
Why? to bear witness about the light
For What? So that all might believe through him
Remember - a christian can trace their spiritual heritage all the way back to John the Baptist…isn’t that cool.
We know by verse 11 that the result of his witness was not that “all believed” his witness, his testimony but that didn’t stop him from doing what God sent him to do. He just did what he was called to do and left the results to God (vs. 12-13).
Now…lets dive into our text this morning:
And this is the testimony of John, when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, “Who are you?”
Before we hear John’s testimony we see religious leaders doing what they should be doing.
They want to know who this guy is and why he is preaching and teaching the things he is preaching
So…they start by asking a simple question: “who are you”
Look at verse 20 on how he answers this simple question:
He confessed, and did not deny, but confessed, “I am not the Christ.”
Confessed - to profess in a manner acccessible to or obervable by the public
That is an interesting answer isn’t it?
Imagine all the times someone has asked who you are - what your name is...
have you ever thought to yourself, “I better confess that ‘I am not the Christ’ because if i dont they may think i am”.
Remember what Jesus said about John the Baptist in Matthew 11
Truly, I say to you, among those born of women there has arisen no one greater than John the Baptist. Yet the one who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.
So what is John’s response to this question? Don’t worry about me…its not about me!
And they asked him, “What then? Are you Elijah?” He said, “I am not.” “Are you the Prophet?” And he answered, “No.”
Since we cleared up that you are not the Christ…are you Elijah?
Why would they ask if he was Elijah?
“Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the great and awesome day of the Lord comes. And he will turn the hearts of fathers to their children and the hearts of children to their fathers, lest I come and strike the land with a decree of utter destruction.”
But the angel said to him, “Do not be afraid, Zechariah, for your prayer has been heard, and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall call his name John. And you will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth, for he will be great before the Lord. And he must not drink wine or strong drink, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother’s womb. And he will turn many of the children of Israel to the Lord their God, and he will go before him in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, to make ready for the Lord a people prepared.”
But this couldn’t be why they were thinking he was Elijah…I don’t think the Jewish leaders knew this information…it had to have been something else that made them think that he could possible be Elijah...
Remember how John the Baptist dressed? Maybe that was it?
Now John wore a garment of camel’s hair and a leather belt around his waist, and his food was locusts and wild honey.
Now John was clothed with camel’s hair and wore a leather belt around his waist and ate locusts and wild honey.
They answered him, “He wore a garment of hair, with a belt of leather about his waist.” And he said, “It is Elijah the Tishbite.”
But...Why does he say, “I am not Elijah”? Christ said he was...
Truly, I say to you, among those born of women there has arisen no one greater than John the Baptist. Yet the one who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he. From the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven has suffered violence, and the violent take it by force. For all the Prophets and the Law prophesied until John, and if you are willing to accept it, he is Elijah who is to come.
John doesn’t want to make it about him…its all about Christ.
They are thinking it was Elijha reincarnated - that came back to life…he wasn’t that!
So they ask....
“Are you the Prophet?” And he answered, “NO”
Why would they ask this? Because they knew their Bibles...
Look at Deut 18:15
“The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your brothers—it is to him you shall listen— just as you desired of the Lord your God at Horeb on the day of the assembly, when you said, ‘Let me not hear again the voice of the Lord my God or see this great fire any more, lest I die.’ And the Lord said to me, ‘They are right in what they have spoken.
HE answered, “nope!” “stop making this about me”
So they said to him, “Who are you? We need to give an answer to those who sent us. What do you say about yourself?”
They are frustrated! but can we be honest…mysteries are so frustrating
“come on man…just tell us who we are”
He said, “I am the voice of one crying out in the wilderness, ‘Make straight the way of the Lord,’ as the prophet Isaiah said.”
Baptisms - Immersions - this was something Gentiles did when they converted to the God of Abraham. They baptized themselves…washed themselves clean.
They didn’t have other people baptize them…it was a solo act.
not only is HE baptizing other people he is baptizing JEWS!
Who does he think he is?
If you are not the Christ or Elijah or the prophet…if you are just someone “crying out in the wilderness” then what in the world are you doing? Who do you think you are?
John answered them, “I baptize with water, but among you stands one you do not know, even he who comes after me, the strap of whose sandal I am not worthy to untie.”
Look guys…IM nobody compared to the one I witness about… you have no idea...
These things took place in Bethany across the Jordan, where John was baptizing.
John Baptized on the east side of the Jordan.
you know where Elijah did most of his ministry? You will never guess:
look at 1 Kings 17:5
So he went and did according to the word of the Lord. He went and lived by the brook Cherith that is east of the Jordan.
what is the importance of telling us WHERE John was baptizing? (MAP)
Bethany? East of the Jordan?
Remember the Exodus?
God saved them…rescued them
They believed the Word of God and put the blood on the door ...
They walked through the water
Their old life of slavery was behind them...
a new life now....
the promised land awaits
What is the importance of telling us where John was baptizing?
Bethany? East of the Jordan?
Look at the screen…here is a map of where Bethany is on the screen...
you know what is East of Bethany?
Guess what they had to go through when they returned to Jerusalem from Babylonian Captivity…
Guess what they went through when they left that captivity…the Jordan River
Could John’s baptism also represent to the Jewish people a return from exile?
Could it also represent a “new exodus”
Leaving the old behind and the bondage you once knew is over.
These things took place in Bethany, across the Jordan…where John was baptizing.
So…you see in the gospels a lot about John the Baptist being Elijah
Christ said he was the one to come...
He dressed liked him
Malichai prophesied about coming back....
Luke records John the Baptist as coming in the Spirit of Elijah
The did the majority of their ministry in the same area...
Elijah was sent to turn the nation of Israel and its leaders back to the Lord....
John the Baptist was sent to tell the people of Israel to repent and make ready, make straight the way of the Lord...
But they missed what came after Elijah just like many of them missed what came after John the Baptist.
Who came after Elijah? Elisha
Who came after John the Baptist? Jesus
So think of these two...
Elisha did far greater things than Elijah and the one that came after John the Baptist, Jesus, John the Baptist said about him “he who comes after me, the strap of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie”....FAR FAR GREATER.
Elisha turned some bad water into good water...
Now the men of the city said to Elisha, “Behold, the situation of this city is pleasant, as my lord sees, but the water is bad, and the land is unfruitful.” He said, “Bring me a new bowl, and put salt in it.” So they brought it to him. Then he went to the spring of water and threw salt in it and said, “Thus says the Lord, I have healed this water; from now on neither death nor miscarriage shall come from it.” So the water has been healed to this day, according to the word that Elisha spoke.
AND TO THIS DAY IT IS THE ONLY SIGNIFICANT FRESH WATER SPRING IN THE AREA…Its old Jericho…close to where Jericho is…in the middle of the desert and right beside it is springs where they grow tons of fruit.
Pretty cool that Elisha turned bad water into good water huh...
But Jesus turned water into Wine...
Elisha…laid on a dead body and the dead person came back to life…look at 2 Kings 4:32-37
When Elisha came into the house, he saw the child lying dead on his bed. So he went in and shut the door behind the two of them and prayed to the Lord. Then he went up and lay on the child, putting his mouth on his mouth, his eyes on his eyes, and his hands on his hands. And as he stretched himself upon him, the flesh of the child became warm. Then he got up again and walked once back and forth in the house, and went up and stretched himself upon him. The child sneezed seven times, and the child opened his eyes. Then he summoned Gehazi and said, “Call this Shunammite.” So he called her. And when she came to him, he said, “Pick up your son.” She came and fell at his feet, bowing to the ground. Then she picked up her son and went out.
Amazing huh! But Christ raised Lazarus by the power of His Word
Elisha fed 100 men once....look at 2 Kings 4:42-44
A man came from Baal-shalishah, bringing the man of God bread of the firstfruits, twenty loaves of barley and fresh ears of grain in his sack. And Elisha said, “Give to the men, that they may eat.” But his servant said, “How can I set this before a hundred men?” So he repeated, “Give them to the men, that they may eat, for thus says the Lord, ‘They shall eat and have some left.’ ” So he set it before them. And they ate and had some left, according to the word of the Lord.
But in Matthew 14 Jesus five loaves of bread and two fish and fed 5,000 men…not counting the women and the children
So what can we learn from these verses…how can we apply those to our own lives…our own witness?
Share Christ with people because you love God with all your heart, mind, soul, and strength and because you truly love your neighbor as yourself.
live your life where people see it and they want to know who you are and what it is you believe....
But always point to Christ like John the Baptist did.
Don’t share with others because you want to make a name for yourself
Did John the Baptist ever boast about how many people he led to Christ?
Do you ever see Paul boasting about how many people he led to Christ?
NO…you actually see the opposite...
I thank God that I baptized none of you except Crispus and Gaius,
And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, so that, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.”
This is what the first 3 chapters of Corinthians is about this....read it tonight…read it slowly.
We have to be like John and have his witness....
and his witness begins with always pointing away from us and pointing to Christ. It is not about us....It is not about OUR name and our Identity…ITs ALL about His Name....
Look at this verse:
On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’
You know why this is…because they were NOT doing these things in Christ’s name…they were doing it for THEIR name...
Share Christ out of the love you have for him and for what he did for you. You were in the wilderness....HE rescued you.
And what DID John the Baptist really tell them?
Did he quote a lot of Scripture? NO
Did he give them deep doctrine? NO
Those things are great, and needed, and we will see later than John grew in his understanding of Christ and we should as well....but HERE…He did not tell them a whole bunch of information.
What he did do was point the focus AWAY from him and he pointed to Christ. He told them to repent, or to “make straight the way of the Lord”.
He told them that the one that comes after him, was before him and that he was much GREATER than him.
So if you feel like you cant be a witness for Christ because you don’t know ENOUGH…trust me…you KNOW ENOUGH.
Tell them what Christ has done for you.
Tell them what YOU DO KNOW ABOUT CHRIST!
Remember Renee Roraback?
There are some of you in here this morning that are in the wilderness…wandering around, with no real direction in your life. The stress of your work life…your family life....you are dying on the inside but you are here because God has brought you here. I pray you come to know Christ. I pray you Make Straight the way of the Lord. Think about all the things that are in the way of what really matters…those things are killing you. Your life may be all out of order…so make straight the way of the Lord. Prepare your heart and mind…repent of your sins and Look to Christ and live.